Siddhi Vinayak Astrology Services Private Limited’s website GaneshaSpeaks.com provides astrology related information to users including sun sign, moon sign, numerology, tarot, among others. The company was started by Hemang Arunbhai Pandit in 2003. In the first part of our interaction with Pandit, he speaks about their audience, content on the web and mobile, regional language content and video.
Content on Different Media
Medianama: How are people consuming astrology related information? How has this changed over time?
Pandit: People consume this information at multiple levels. The most favored way of consuming is Sun or moon sign based daily horoscope. The 24 hour news channels have managed to create awareness about lunar, solar eclipse and astrological events throughout the year. We experience the spillover effect of this, since people have started becoming aware of these events, and want to know how these will effect their horoscope. The other important change is that people between 25-40 years of age don’t really use astrology as the ultimate decision making tool. It is only one of many decision making tools they use. If someone in our parent’s generation had a problem, they would go to an astrologer who gave them a solution and that’s about it. But now people use their rationale, along with astrology, to take decisions.
Medianama: What are some of the things that surprised you with respect to Indian users consuming astrology related information?
Pandit: As far as Indian consumers go, I would not be surprised by anything. Astrology in India plays the default role of a shrink. If someone goes to shrink then they are branded as mad. People go to astrologers instead. There is nothing surprising about it. Even our festivals are based on astrology. It is a part of our culture.
Medianama: Which of your content services receive the maximum user response? Any reason?
Pandit: The sun sign sections on my website get the maximum response. Apart from that, we have tried to expand the horizon of forecasting for business, markets, sports, future of politics. These sections also receive considerable amounts of interest. This year we are introducing forecasts for IPL as well. We have done quite lot of forecasting for cricket. During the world cup that India won, around 82.5% of our forecasts were correct. From the semi -finals to the finals, we were 100% correct. Our forecasts have been 75%-85% accurate most of the time.
Medinama: What is the traffic that you get during cricket season? Do you monetise your cricket content?
Pandit: During peak cricket, almost 15-20% of our traffic would be for the cricket related forecasts. Last year, during the T20 world cup, around 16% traffic of our traffic was for Cricket related forecasts. Our cricket forecasts are primarily for entertainment. We do not monetise it.
Medianama: What are the services that you offer on the web and on the mobile?
Pandit: On the web, we offer a full range of services. You can get any personalised query related to finance, business, love & relationship, property etc. We offer services where you can ask one question, more questions, or get a detailed report for 3 months up till 10 years. We offer remedies such as certified gems stones, rudraksh etc on our website for sale. As for our services on the mobile, you can call and speak to our astrologer 24×7 in 10 languages. You can call for numerology, fenshui, tarot as well. We also offer lot of services around SMS.
Medianama: How do you differentiate between the web and mobile as a medium for delivering content?
Pandit: The lines have started blurring pretty rapidly. The current differentiation is that people can get day reports, written guidance prepared by our astrologer on the web, and they can speak to our astrologer on the mobile. This will also soon diminish because 30% traffic already comes from mobile. We are in the process of finalising a mobile portal for GaneshaSpeaks.com.
Regional Language Services
Medianama: What is the kind of response that you receive to your regional language web edition (Gujarati) compared to English?
Pandit: It has been two or three weeks since we launched the Gujarati version of our website. Currently, 5% pageviews are coming from Gujarati. This is likely to change in 3 to 6 months improving considerably. We are trying to improve awareness. People are appreciating the fact we are giving them services in their own language.
Medianama: Why do you only have Gujarati and English version of your website? Why not other languages?
Pandit: We are based in Gujarat so we have started with Gujarati and then we will move to other languages. Gujarati and the other Indian languages requires unique code support. We also wanted to test our systems for unicode support.
Medianama: How do you plan to use other regional language content on your web and mobile content plan for the future?
Pandit: At this point in time, I would not want to share it. We are still studying the mobile maket that support unique code for different languages.
Medinama: Have your considered video content? Why not video content for your services?
Pandit: We have considered video content. We now have a deal with one of the biggest DTH providers in India on their VOD section. However, we would make an appropriate announcement for that.
Medianama: What is the kind of response that you get for your paid and subscription services as compared to your free services?
Pandit: The response is fantastic. We have significant amount of users converting to paid users. I can’t share the numbers. 5-6% of our users convert to paid customers which is above market average.
Medianama: Who is your target audience?
Pandit: Astrology being our core subject, a student appearing for XII exams can get astrological guidance or a person as old as 60 years can ask about health or children. It encompasses people from 15-75 years. There is no gender bias. Both men and women use astrology as far as India is concerned. It is a very wide audience.
Medianama: Which parts of the country do you get maximum traffic from?
Pandit: We are very strong in the West, East, North, North East and Central parts of India. We are still working on southern part of India. Metros and major cities in these regions bring us major traffic. Earlier, it used to primarily come from the metros. It is now more spread. It is also coming from bigger towns, smaller towns and cities as well. At the end of the day, astrology is something that is used by all in the Indian society.
(Update: Corrected typographical errors in the post)